Chapter 17

Fear of the Light

“Phantasia.”

“That will be Princess Phantasia to you.”

The Director did not correct himself. He was either extremely brave or extremely foolish. Which one, Emily wasn’t sure. In fact, she could hardly be sure of anything.

The darkness had vanished just as soon as it appeared, its twelve-note song fleeing into the cracks and crevices like cockroaches scurrying to escape the first rays of morning sun. Already the Scar seemed clearer and, for the first time, Emily could see from one end of the dome to the other. And it was all because of her.

Princess Phantasia was as radiant and cheerful as Emily remembered, though she was once again putting on that show of pompous royalty, looking down her nose at the people around her as if they were inferior subjects unfit to touch the drifting ribbons of her delicate white dress. “I declared myself your saviour,” she said, her eyes wandering the group, “and I have saved you from the Erebus.”

“That you have,” said the Director. “How uncanny of you.”

There was a definite hostility in his voice, a coldness to match his eyes. Emily glanced around the rooftop, beyond, up to the cracks and openings in the Scar’s dome, searching for signs of the Lords Freyr and Dionysus. They were sure to be watching, and if the Director continued his present tone he would face the consequences.

A crash of doors pulled Emily’s attention back to the rooftop in time to see Theseus Armstrong charging out of the house, a Sophist sword raised and ready to strike. The moment he caught sight of the Director and his armoured associates, he slipped into a wary defensive stance.

“At ease, Mr Armstrong,” said the Director. “I am not as inclined to violence as some of my less-auspicious associates. I presume they were no trouble for you?”

Theseus eyed the Sophists, as if sizing up his chances, then lowered the weapon to his side. “We’re not as incompetent as you’d like us to be,” he replied, as disrespectful towards the Director as the Director was towards the Sidhe. Emily would have put it down to male bravado, but she knew Leira would be far, far worse. It was a good thing her Fiannan friend valued sleep over Seelie.

“Good,” said the Director. “I would advise—”

Theseus has the seer’s sword, just in case you were thinking “but I thought it disintegrated last chapter!”